Sunday, 18 February 2007

patterns of kingyo

I have a shirt I bought a few years ago covered in little kingyo (goldfish). It's a summer shirt and is sleeveless and given we're in the middle of another heatwave (38 degrees celcius yesterday and today) I decided to wear it the other day. When I first bought it, that shirt got a huge reaction from people in Japan. Goldfish or kingyo as the Japanese call them are a big part of the visual images connected to Japan. Like kimono, tea, sushi, and geta, for some reason goldfish are high up on that list too. All kinds of people came up to me and told me they liked my kingyo shirt. So when I decided to wear it a few days ago it made me 'homesick' for Kyoto and everything my mind associated with Japan and out popped this little kingyo card as a response to that mood. It also felt like a very Japan printmaking moment as I printed this, sweat rolling down my body as I rubbed the baren disc across the paper and wood block. I've spent many a sweaty day printing in the incredible humidity of a Japanese summer. Fortunately, Melbourne is a lot drier, but in 38 degrees you can still get pretty hot!

Tuesday, 13 February 2007

cactus flower one day wonder

When I woke up a few days ago, I noticed that one of my succulents just outside the back door had overnight produced this amazing looking flower. If you look closely you'll see why this is a wild and beautiful accomplishment of the natural world. That huge white flower came out of the small, round, green succulent on the left (the one with the small white spikey dots all over it). And the most incredible thing is the flower only blossomed for one day and then it collapsed, suggesting the force of pushing it out into the world for that short time, was all it could muster. It was a wonderful thing to have witnessed. I'm always impressed by the gorgeous and unusual range of flowers that succulents produce from their spikey and sometimes rubbery bodies. I have another in my kitchen that is quite ugly to look at, yet when it flowers, pushes out bright pink little buds all over it's round prickly base. I think I might even make a print with some of the flower images someday.

Monday, 12 February 2007

blue when it moves

Have you ever noticed the way dragonflies, when they move really fast, seem to have this blue-like blurry colour hovering around their wings and bodies?

Or is that just my imagination running a bit wild?

The Japanese word for dragonfly is "tombo". The Japanese often refer to this lovely creature affectionately as "tombo-chan" - "chan" being a cute tag attached to a friend's or child's name. This print first started coming together about a year ago when I was studying gardening books and books about insects. I love all those lines that insects have. The prints itself is now its 3rd incarnation in the blue form. The others have been smaller and brown or grey in colour. I'm experimenting a bit with the layering of colour at the moment and made a print of this on a bigger sheet of paper with a larger brown tombo over the top. It looks better on thinner paper in the bigger version for some reason but this little one above turned out quite well on this lovely hand-made thick paper (above picture on left) from Japan (and, alas, not in stock any more according to my friend Miki in Japan this morning!).

Thursday, 8 February 2007

of dragonflies and other critters

This set is one I printed a few months ago when I was a bit obsessed with joining lots of little printed pieces together to create one image. I like the way you get the feel of segments of nature rather than a whole joined image. When framed the effect is quite lovely especially when the float-mount technique is used rather than the traditional style of presenting an image bound by a matt. I leave spaces (half a cm) between each fragment when framing and this allows the pieces to 'breathe'. Just before I left Japan I became intrigued with float mounting prints. It lets you appreciate the paper more (and who doesn't want to admire the beautiful papers around now?) and pushes the print/s out to the viewer in the frame rather than hiding it behind a matt (which works for some prints but not all). Seed pods from Australian plant life have always mezmerised me with their compact nature. I love the 'life force' symbolism connected to seed pods too especially in Australia where a lot of pods don't open until there's been tremendous heat created by a bush fire. Dragonflies and other insects are fascinating because of their linear quality - something that
most printmakers